Projects of any kind can produce all manner of challenges. But when the purpose of the project is an output with complex development processes, such as eLearning, those challenges are only magnified. From dealing with too many cooks in the kitchen to being left stirring all the pots yourself, eLearning project management requires strong leadership and a confident approach.
However, there are components you can put in place to ensure consistent results across your eLearning projects.
1. The Kick-Off Meeting
Kick-off meetings set the tone for any project and they’re particularly important for eLearning project management that involve multiple stakeholders from across the organization.
A well-run kick-off meeting gives you the opportunity to:
- Set clear expectations
- Answer questions
- Establish roles and responsibilities
- Discuss SLAs and project milestones
- Distribute documentation and guidelines
- Set out next steps and initial deliverables
It’s a case of “the more the merrier” when it comes to project kick-off. Every individual who will have some involvement or contributing role, including subject matter experts, should attend. That way, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and expectations are clear.
But the most important aspect of the kick-off meeting is that it allows you to establish your leadership of the project. Check out this webinar with award-winning eLearning designer, Tim Slade, for more practical tips to make a success of your kick-off meeting.
2. The Project Timeline
While your project timeline might not be set in stone at this stage, it’s important to have one prepared prior to project kick-off.
Get as granular as possible and make sure that all milestones are included in the timeline. It’s also a good idea to factor in dependencies so that stakeholders and contributors understand the importance of their role in the project. Even a seemingly small task can hold up everyone else and send deadlines for the entire project out the window.
Share your timeline with all project team members and ask for feedback. That way, you’ll establish buy-in for deadlines and dependencies from the beginning. If a project team member provides feedback that more time will be needed for certain deadlines and milestones, take that feedback into account and adjust the timeline accordingly.
3. The Project Deliverables
With so many moving parts, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and forget the ultimate goal of the project. So, for each milestone, make sure there are specific deliverables set and keep the objective front and centre at all times.
For example, your deliverables may include:
- Learner profiles
- Project storyboard
- Specific pieces of content
- Course prototypes
- Testing and feedback results
Make sure each member of the team understands what deliverables they are accountable for and the dependencies involved to keep the team on track.
4. The Documentation
While formal project documentation may be preferable, it’s not always necessary. However, it is important to get as much information as possible down on paper in one format or another. That way, if conflict or questions arise further down the line, you can reference something concrete and resolve the confusion easily.
Many project teams create and sign a project charter. This solidifies the commitment from the team and provides the project manager with some backup if deadlines are slipping.
Even if you opt for more informal “documentation,” you should make sure that, at a minimum, the following points are addressed, agreed upon, and documented:
- Project timeline
- Roles and responsibilities
- Communication channels
- Meeting schedule/frequency
- Sub-project groups (if needed)
5. Stakeholder Management
Stakeholders have an inevitable and necessary role to play in training projects. Depending on the size and scope of your project, you could be dealing with many stakeholders from across the organization and often at a senior position.
Stakeholders are L&D’s internal customers, so while it’s important to deliver, it’s equally important to set expectations and to manage those expectations continuously throughout the project.
When you’ve got budgets and deadlines to adhere to, a stakeholder’s demands and inputs can be stressful and quickly lead to the dreaded scope creep. That’s why communication and clear documentation is so important. If you can’t do something, make sure the reasons are clearly related to your stakeholders and reinforce the original objective of the training project.
6. Tools & Channels
From project management software to communication channels, it’s vital that all training project team members understand which tools will be used throughout the project. If a team member is unfamiliar with any of the tools you’ll be using, it’s well worth your time to provide some fundamental training and provide job aids for using them.
The best way to ensure tools are being used accurately and appropriately is to lead by example. For example, don’t be afraid to redirect team members to the appropriate channel if long email chains are starting to appear. Or, if you receive a Word document rather than an upload to your eLearning project management tool, make sure to hand the reins back to the contributor and request that the content be uploaded to the appropriate location, rather than just doing it yourself.
Ultimately, eLearning project management is going to come with some tricky situations and challenges to overcome. But the key is to come prepared with the components that can empower you to be a strong project manager and lead your team to success.
Got some SMEs that are proving tricky to manage? Check out this toolkit for tips, tricks, and templates for working with SMEs:
Toolkit: The Secret Formula for Working With SMEs